Personal Capital Review: Managing Investments Made Easy
I’ve been using Personal Capital, for several months now as an attempt to aggregate all of our investment and banking accounts in one location. Think of Personal Capital as Mint with a twist of investing thrown into it.
While I’ve been fine managing our various investment accounts at different brokerages, I’m also looking for ways to simplify my life and this was an easy first choice to do so. Now that I’ve gotten some experience using their platform, I thought a Personal Capital review would be in order to see how they might work for you.
If you’ve not heard of Personal Capital, they’re run by former PayPal and Intuit CEO Bill Harris. He was key in raising $28 million to start Personal Capital and most of the higher ups within the organization have obtained the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Their site would best be viewed as a platform that allows you to co-mingle all your financial accounts – from bank accounts, to online brokerage accounts, loans, mortgages, credit cards and more. This is all done as a way to help you have one location to go to that analyzes your investments to make sure you’re on track for where you want to be.
Who Can Use Personal Capital?
The beauty is that anyone can use Personal Capital. Anyone can open an account with Personal Capital and use its platform as it’s free. How great is that? You may be wondering how they make money and that would be a very good question.
How Personal Capital makes money is through their ideal clients – the mass affluent that have at least $100,000, but really $250,000+, of investible assets. Those clients have the option of being paired with a financial planner who will go over their investment needs, though that’s not required by any means. This is where their income comes into play as Personal Capital earns a certain percentage of income, based off of the assets they’re managing for you. The cost of that is as follows:
- Less than $250,000 is .95%
- $250,001 – $500,000 is .90%
- $500,001 – $1,000,000 is .85%
- $1,000,001 – $5,000,000 is .80%
- $5,000,001+ is .75%
The big key to remember is that these fees are on top to the fees you’d experience through being put into one of the investment funds, generally an ETF, so in some cases you’d likely be looking at a minimum of 1% in expenses. That’s not horrible, by any stretch, but is not a fee I’d be willing to pay in most cases.
Features of Personal Capital
Fee analyzer: I love this feature of Personal Capital! What this feature does is analyze the fees you’re paying in things like your 401k or mutual funds to help you see where exactly your money is going. As an aside, knowing how much your investments are costing you is an incredibly important thing to know as it can be a significant drag on your overall portfolio.
Investment checker: Do you know how your investment choices are comparing to their benchmarks? If you don’t, this is a helpful feature Personal Capital offers and is free to use. After connecting your investment accounts with Personal Capital they tell you how your investments are allocated and how they’re doing against their benchmarks. As someone who has various brokerage accounts, this is an incredibly helpful tool to use.
Reminders: I don’t know about you, but life is hectic. It’s easy to forget things. Personal Capital allows you to set reminders so you’re notified when bills are due or sent and even updates to your net worth.
Net Worth tracker: As Personal Capital allows you to connect assets as well as loans, mortgages and credit cards, you can easily see what your net worth is. Not only this, but it also tracks your net worth and you can get reminders of when it’s updated.
Investment education: As I’ve stated in many of my online brokerage reviews, education is key and Personal Capital doesn’t fall short here. They offer numerous free investment courses on their site to help get you started investing in the stock market.
Incredibly easy to use: Ok, this is not really a feature, per se, but I wanted to point it out. Having used their site quite a bit, I have found that it’s incredibly easy to use. Their graphs and charts are simple to understand as are most of the features on the site.
Should You Be Concerned About Security With Personal Capital?
At first thought, I was a bit unsure of handing Personal Capital all of the login information to our bank and brokerage accounts. After doing a good bit of research on their practice though, those fears went away.
Once I was fine handing over that information, the rest was a breeze. You can link accounts with as little as three clicks and from there they require you to be able to login to each account you’re linking as well as requiring login upon each visit to your Personal Capital account.
Personal Capital uses a two-factor authentication system when you first sign up to use one of their free accounts. They first make you verify your password and identify the computer you’re using. If you try logging in from another computer, they send a notification to your email or phone to make sure it really is you.
In addition to that they can send you daily recaps of account activity in all of your accounts so you can stay on top of everything that is going on. Personal Capital, of course, encrypts all of your account information just like any other site with integrity would as well as having photo and password protection required.
My Take on Personal Capital
I think for the right person, using Personal Capital would be a great option. At the very least, they offer a free service that allows you to keep track of your investments and see what changes might be beneficial to you. If you’re looking for a financial advisor, they do have trained advisors who are assigned to your account and they make it easy for you to sign up for a call or instant chat with an advisor from the site. When I signed up for my account, one reached out to me but it was not a service I took advantage of as I knew I’d not be paying for professional advice.
In terms of fees, their fees are very competitive with what you’d find in the market if that’s something you’re looking for. Just make sure that if you go this route, that the investment plan they suggest is one you’re comfortable with and will help you meet your investment goals.
Do you use a service like this or Mint to help you co-mingle all of your financial data? If not, why not and if so what benefits do you get out of it?
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